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Daniel Day-Lewis - Biography

TalkTalk have created this exclusive biography of Daniel Day-Lewis - we believe it to be the most comprehensive on the web

Daniel Day-Lewis

Personal details

Name: Daniel Day-Lewis
Born: 29 April 1957 (Age: 58)
Where: London, England
Height: 6' 1"
Awards: Won 2 Oscars, 3 BAFTAs and 1 Golden Globe

All about this star


Many actors are described as a "consummate professional". Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman - these guys are utterly trustworthy, they never miss the mark, never miss a beat, they always deliver. But there's delivering and delivering. Some actors - and there have never been many - take that extra step, delve so far into the spirit of their characters, into the heart of the piece, that they can become a total pain to those around them. Brando was like that, Sean Penn still is. And then there's the modern-day ultimate - Daniel Day-Lewis, considered by many to be the most extreme, and consequently the finest actor of them all.

De Niro is famed for the weight he gained and lost for Raging Bull, but Day-Lewis matched that by buffing up into a he-man for Last Of The Mohicans, then losing all of it and more to play a cadaverous prisoner in In The Name Of The Father. And he went further. Who else would build a house to get into a role, as he did for The Crucible? Who else would spend months walking around New York swathed in 1870s clothing and reeking of cologne (The Age Of Innocence), and more months confined to a wheelchair (My Left Foot)? Who'd learn to speak Czech (The Unbearable Lightness Of Being) and become expert in butchery (Gang Of New York)? In terms of uncompromising preparation, in the ruthless priming of his imagination, Daniel Day-Lewis is unmatched.

He was born Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis on the 29th of April, 1957, into an illustrious family. His father, Cecil Day-Lewis was a writer and a poet of such distinction he'd serve as Poet Laureate between 1968 and his death in 1972. Also, writing as Nicholas Blake, he published some 20 detective novels, their hero, Nigel Strangeways being modelled on the poet WH Auden, one of Cecil's peers at Oxford. To celebrate his son's arrival, Cecil, 53 at the time, would write the poem The Newborn, featuring the lines "We time-worn folk renew/ Ourselves at your enchanted spring/ as though mankind's begun/ Again in you/ This is your birthday and our thanksgiving". Daniel's mother, Jill Balcon, was an actress who'd appeared in such hit movies as Saraband For Dead Lovers, alongside Stewart Granger and Joan Greenwood. Much of Jill's early work was done for Ealing Studios, then at the height of its powers. Not in the least bit co-incidentally, Jill's father was Michael Balcon, head of Ealing Studios from 1937 to 1959.

Daniel was born in the front room of 96, Campden Hill Road in Kensington, the family moving a few months later to 6, Croom's Hill, Greenwich. Here he grew up, along with his older sister, Lydia Tamasin, known as Tamasin, who'd later become a renowned documentary film-maker and a TV chef. As Cecil was consumed by his work and Jill, as she later admitted, was consumed by Cecil, the kids grew very close, playing together constantly and acting out little dramas. Tamasin can recall young Daniel leaping from the nursery window-sill, pretending to be Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.

Another recollection was sadder. Before he eventually died of cancer, Cecil suffered a series of heart attacks, first being hospitalised when Daniel was just 8. Consequently, for the kids, death was never very far away, and this had a deep effect on the young boy. Years later, when Cecil's complete works were published, Daniel would write an appreciation for the Observer, mentioning his own "melancholic inclination" and "irrevocable sense of decay". Daniel would later recall that one of the few things he ever did with his father was sail a boat on a round pond in Hyde Park.

Nevertheless, his was not an unhappy childhood. He remembers very pleasant holidays in Ireland, his father's birthplace. At Connemara and Mayo, they attended horse races on the beaches at low tide, where tinkers had set up (illegal) betting boothes. One year Tamasin rode, another Daniel fell in love with a local girl, impressed by her noble steed and her black hair streaming in the wind.

Home life wasn't quite so simple or idyllic. Living in Greenwich, Daniel naturally found himself among some tough South London kids. Being Irish, Jewish AND posh, he was in for some serious stick. Very quickly, therefore, he mastered the local accent and mannerisms, and believes this to have been the first convincing role he played.

Having attended Invicta and Sherington elementary schools, September 1968 saw a major change for Daniel. He was a pretty wild kid and, in order to instil some discipline into the boy, his parents decided to send him to Sevenoaks, a boarding school in Kent. He hated it, everything about it. But it did introduce him to two great loves. First, there was woodwork, then acting, Daniel making his debut in Cry, The Beloved Country. Blacking up for his role as a little black boy, he could never clean it all off afterwards, each night messing up his bed-sheets. His dislike of Sevenoaks was shown in his joy at this mishap. He loved what he described as the "legal subversion".

His hatred only grew and, after two years, he was sent to join his sister at the more progressive Bedales in Petersfield. The summer before the move was thus a good one, and all the more so because he made his Silver Screen debut. John Schlesinger was in town, filming the controversial bisexual drama Sunday Bloody Sunday. Some young thugs were needed and, oddly but fortunately, Daniel's local fruit and veg seller was asked to round some up. Daniel's gang was up for it, and the nastiest were chosen to scratch some flash cars with broken glass. Daniel, his street-kid persona now finely honed, was among them, receiving '5 for his day's work.

The film was a big hit and a critical success. The intensity of the lead performances by Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson (both Oscar nominated) foreshadowed that of Daniel in his later career. Co-incidentally, his mother Jill would make a brief comeback in Jackson's TV series Elizabeth R the same year (1971) that Sunday Bloody Sunday was released.

But Daniel's wasn't just an act. He later said that at the time he was a sullen and morose boy, often in trouble for shoplifting, drinking, smoking and dallying with girls. This would continue at Bedales, though it also became apparent that he might be a high-achiever. Now he began to act seriously in school productions, at one point playing the dashing young prince Florizel in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. Sadly, it would be the only time his father saw him perform.

After a long illness, Cecil would die in May of 1972. Daniel, having raced back from Bedales, was holding his hand when he passed away. Hit hard, the boy threw himself into the activity he now loved best. Not acting, but woodwork.

The acting did continue, though, as did the bad behaviour. In 1973, suffering from migraines, Daniel was prescribed painkillers, drugs he enjoyed so much he upped the dose to a drastic degree, eventually beginning to hallucinate. Believing him to be a junkie, the authorities locked him in a room, with a nurse, for a spot of cold turkey, Daniel later claiming that it took one of his finest performances - as a sane man - to achieve release.

By 1974, things were going better, so much better that he even had his own fan-club. Appreciating both his physique and footballing expertise, the girls at Bedales now knew him as Daniel Day-Pinup. Despite the choice on offer, Daniel became ensconced with a girl in his year, Sarah Campbell, remaining with her for well over a decade.

Leaving Bedales in 1975, Daniel now had to make a hard career choice. Excelling onstage, he'd been taken on for a spell at the National Youth Theatre, but though he loved acting he found something "seedy" and "distasteful" about backstage life. Instead, he decided to become a cabinet-maker, applying for a 5 year apprenticeship. However, his lack of experience saw him turned down.

So, it was to be acting. Daniel would join the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, eventually performing at Bristol Old Vic itself. For his audition, he'd reprise a one-man performance of Pinter's The Dumb Waiter he'd originally learned earlier in his teens. At first, of course, he played minor roles. 1979 would see him as a soldier in Adrian Noble's production of The Recruiting Officer, as Deiphobus in Richard Cottrell's Troilus And Cressida, as Stanley in Peter Postlethwaite's Funny Peculiar, and as The Amazing Fez in Bob Crowley's adaptation of Ken Campbell's Old King Cole. Postlethwaite would later recall "We all saw this extraordinary pyrotechnic work going on and we thought 'Oh, no, not another one of these! Can't we lose him somewhere?'" Of course, he'd have changed his mind by 1993 when, playing second fiddle to Day-Lewis, he was Oscar-nominated for In The Name Of The Father.

1980 would bring a gradual rise as he appeared in Oh! What A Lovely War as well as playing Iron in David Rome's Class Enemy, and Leicester and Philostrate in Cottrell's Edward II and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Come 1981, he was the main man, starring as the immortally angry Jimmy Porter in George Costigan's Look Back In Anger and in the title role in Dracula, also directed by Costigan. TV parts had become to come, too. He made his TV debut in the apocalyptic sci-fi drama Artemis 81, starring Hywel Bennett, then played a thug once more, this time a military one, in a small part in Richard Attenborough's epic Gandhi.

Now it was time to get really serious. Daniel had not really enjoyed his time at the Old Vic. He was not keen on the classics, rather he was not keen on the notion that all actors must serve their apprenticeship studying them. Something of a firebrand, he was more drawn to angry works dealing in contemporary politics, like those of Barrie Keefe, who'd just written The Long Good Friday. There'd also been a vital change in that Daniel had discovered the works of Stanislavsky and had begun working on his own method. This would allow him to follow a dream he'd had since 1976 when he'd been blown away by Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver - to be able to enter a role as fully as Robert De Niro had done.

After spending 6 months in a West London flat peopled by musicians and other out-of-work actors, indulging in all manner of intoxicants, Daniel decided to pull himself together and go for it. And it worked. In the BBC's How Many Miles To Babylon?, he played a rich kid officer in WW1 who must take charge of a firing squad organised to execute his best friend, a working class deserter. Better still, his rise to prominence at the Bristol Old Vic led him to London where, replacing Rupert Everett, he enjoyed a great stage success at the Queen's with Another Country, based on the early lives of Guy Burgess and Donald MacLean, both well-to-do English schoolboys who ended up spying for the Russians. Again co-incidentally, Daniel's father Cecil had been the only member of WH Auden's left-wing set at University who'd actually joined the Communist Party.

1983 saw Daniel off filming another blockbuster, this time appearing as John Fryer, the sulky, skulking, cowardly First Mate of Anthony Hopkins' Captain Bligh. It was a fine effort, yet famous critic Pauline Kael picked him out in her review, noting that he "seems like a bad actor". How things change. On his return in the autumn, the "bad actor", now renowned as one of British theatre's greatest prospects, would join the Royal Shakespeare Company. However, the golden boy proved to be too much of a handful for the thespian troupe. Daniel would star for them as Romeo in John Caird's Romeo And Juliet, with Amanda Root as his star-crossed lover, and he'd be Flute in Sheila Hancock's A Midsummer Night's Dream. But he'd not make it through his first short tour, being replaced by Simon Templeman as Romeo and Andrew Hall as Flute.

No matter, for the mid-Eighties saw Day-Lewis's breakthrough. In 1985, he'd star My Brother Jonathan for the BBC, a miniseries based on the 1928 novel by Francis Brett Young where Daniel would play a gradually disillusioned small-town doctor overshadowed by his more dashing brother both in life and love. Then he'd really come to the attention of the British public with My Beautiful Laundrette. Penned by Hanif Kureishi and directed by Stephen Frears, this saw Gordon Warnecke as an Asian kid who takes over his uncle's laundromat and must deal with the racism, sexism, homophobia, colonialism and snobbery of the Thatcher years. Helping him in his endeavours, and complicating matters somewhat, is racist thug Johnny (Daniel) who also happens to be his lover.

It was an excellent performance, with Daniel rough, cruel and narcissistic, but also capable of tenderness. As soon as filming had finished, he moved on to his next project, EM Forster's A Room With A View. Here he played Cecil Vyse, the priggish and awkward fiance of Helena Bonham Carter's Lucy Honeychurch, a young girl who returns from a holiday in Florence having fallen in love with Julian Sands. How strange it must have felt after the brooding physicality of Johnny; weirder still to be constantly called by his own dead father's name.

Having missed out to Gary Oldman for the part of Sid Vicious in Alex Cox's Sid And Nancy, Daniel returned to the stage in Richard Eyre's Futurists, on the Cottesloe stage at the National Theatre. Co-starring Jack Shepherd, Charlotte Cornwell and Roger Lloyd Pack, this would be set in 1921 Petrograd, with Daniel's bullet-headed Mayakovsky stirring it up with the likes of Gorky, Blok and Gumilev. The leading poet of the Russian revolution, Mayakovsky was a major romantic (he'd shoot himself in 1930), raging against the Tsarist regime then assailed by grim Bolshevik conformity. It was a great chance for Daniel to shine and he took it, winning some outstanding reviews. He'd stay with Eyre for a TV production of Alan Bennett's The Insurance Man where he'd play Mr Kafka who, suffering a work-related illness, enters a bureaucratic nightmare when seeking medical and financial aid. Also starring was Jim Broadbent, who'd later win an Oscar for Eyre's Iris, and appear as Daniel's boss in Gangs Of New York.

Now Daniel was on his way. My Beautiful Laundrette and A Room With A View opened on the same day in New York City, Daniel impressing everyone with the depth and variety of his performances. He was named Best Supporting Actor by the New York Film Critics. Yet still he would only take projects that interested him, and shunning the Hollywood route instead chose Philip Kaufman's adaptation of Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness Of Being. This saw him as Tomas, a ladykilling doctor in Prague in the Sixties. In a relationship with sophisticated (and thoroughly erotic) artist Lena Olin, with whom he need never really be emotionally involved, he falls for bookish country girl Juliette Binoche, forcing him towards painful reality. There's plenty of painful reality on the streets, too, with Russian tanks rolling into the city.

The 8-month shoot was a tough one for Daniel, who was already insisting on staying in character on and off-set. It wasn't a hit, but it did mark him as a courageous and brilliant actor, as well as, due to the prolonged erotic scenes, turning him into a sex symbol. Unsurprisingly, his relationship with Sarah Campbell now came to an end. The lengthy separations had pulled them apart, and rumours of an affair with Binoche hadn't helped.

Despite his exhaustion, Daniel moved straight on into Stars And Bars, a wacky black comedy miles removed from the Kundera piece. Here he played a poncy art appraiser who travels from New York to Georgia to value a Renoir owned by southern patriarch Harry Dean Stanton. Madness ensues due to the attentions of Harry's redneck family and those of a gang of rival art dealers, with Daniel spending much of the time running around naked. Great for the ladies, if not for cinephiles.

After this severe bout of silliness, Daniel re-entered the real world in no uncertain terms by taking the lead in Jim Sheridan's My Left Foot. This was the real-life story of Christy Brown, a boy born with cerebral palsy who had control only over his left foot. Born into a large, poor family in a Dublin slum, he must first convince people that he's not a vegetable, then find some way to express himself - physically, emotionally and creatively. This he does, amazingly, by learning to write and paint with his foot.

The role was a challenge even for an actor of Daniel's calibre. To research it, he rented a house near the Sandymount School and Clinic in Dublin, a leading centre in the treatment of the disabled (he'd later become a benefactor), and spent months studying the patients. On-set, he became Brown, refusing to leave his character and remaining in his wheelchair throughout. So firm was he on this that the crew had to pick him up and carry him over cables and such, cursing him all the way.

When this intense shoot was done, Daniel moved immediately on to Argentina to film Eversmile, New Jersey. Here he was Dr Fergal O'Connell, a maverick dentist on a motorbike, teaching the Patagonian natives about oral hygiene. Reluctantly picking up a female assistant, he gets chased, beaten up and abandoned by his employers. All in a day's work for a biker-dentist in Patagonia.

1989 was a turbulent year. Richard Eyre had just taken over from Sir Peter Hall as artistic director of the National Theatre and one of his first moves was to persuade the young, moody and brilliant Day-Lewis, star of his hit Futurists, to play the lead in Hamlet on the Olivier stage. It would prove to be one step too far for both of them. For a start, the initial reviews were not uniformly good, some writers criticizing Daniel's command of Shakespearian poetry, denting Daniel's confidence. Then, having taken 3 weeks off to promote My Left Foot (always a stressful rush of interviews and photos), he returned to find the part of Hamlet becoming ever more difficult. Though he grew into the role, giving Hamlet an oedipal fixation on Judi Dench's Gertrude and courting controversy by having the character grow in heroic stature rather than descend into madness, he'd have problems with Hamlet's conversations with the ghost of his dead father. Daniel - as ever right in character - was of course having conversations with his own dead father, conversations that became harder and harder to bear. On September 5th, about 45 minutes into the 4-hour play, he walked off, slumping in tears to the floor backstage and declaring that he could not go on. He'd be replaced by Ian Charleson.

The furore was immense. The tabloids, already stirred up by Daniel's new relationship with the French superstar Isabelle Adjani, went to town, inventing some ghoulish relationship between Daniel and his father. The theatre world was after him, too, particularly when the rumour spread that he would never appear onstage again. After his experiences with the National Youth Theatre and the RSC, Daniel had little respect for them anyway, hating their snobbish attitude toward film acting. He also felt they wanted to keep him as a stage actor - "but that's just because of my nose", he said later. "I was given a nose they couldn't wait to put into various costumes and move around the stage". Much the same had happened years before to another graduate of Bristol's Old Vic who'd baited the critics with a new view of Hamlet and abandoned the stage for film stardom - Peter O'Toole.

1990 saw Daniel's future sealed when, at the Oscars, he took out Tom Cruise and Kenneth Branagh to snatch Best Actor for My Left Foot (Brenda Fricker also won for her performance as Christy Brown's mother). He returned to Sandymount to show the kids the award they'd help him win, then took a year out, helping to produce Orlando, and fending off both film offers and rumours of an affair with Madonna (this he did, as always, by entirely ignoring them).

But some offers were just too good. First there was Michael Mann and The Last Of The Mohicans. Daniel had sworn never to lower himself to a big budget action movie, but this was very different, Mann's plan being to bring high romance and political intrigue into a hardcore frontier war movie. For the part of Hawkeye, Daniel studied hunting and the woodsman's craft and added 20 pounds of muscle to his physique with a strict training regime and a diet of 5000 calories a day.

And what a result. The Last Of The Mohicans was one of the best action movies ever made. Daniel was excellent in his baleful disrespect for the British officers, noble in his struggle with the vengeful Huron war-chief Magua, and wholly passionate in his affair with Miss Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe). There was no nudity at all, yet still the couple produced the most convincing love scenes in years. There'd also be a small role for Daniel's old overstudy Peter Postlethwaite.

Then there was Martin Scorsese. Daniel had, naturally, great respect for the director and so when Scorsese approached him before the shooting of Mohicans, Daniel was all ears. The result was The Age Of Innocence, based on Edith Wharton's novel. Taking place in 19th Century New York, this saw Daniel as Newland Archer, a staid fellow engaged to an equally prim Winona Ryder. All goes well until Ryder's cousin, Elena Olenska shows up. Played by Michelle Pfeiffer, she's split from an abusive husband and is thus frowned upon by polite society. Archer defends, then falls for her, but dare he do the dirty on Ryder? Ryder, who was Oscar nominated for her role, called Day-Lewis "my perfect leading man". Of course, rumours of an affair abounded. Pfeiffer, on the other hand, complained of the tobacco on his breath.

Now the offers were flooding in. Daniel turned down the leads in Philadelphia and The English Patient, as well as Schindler's List, to which he was attached while Martin Scorsese was onboard as director (his replacements would all be Oscar nominated for their efforts). Instead, he returned to Jim Sheridan and Postlethwaite with In The Name Of The Father. This was the true-life tale of the Guildford Four, based on Proved Innocent, the autobiography of Gerry Conlon. Gabriel Byrne had bought the rights, intending to star himself, but decided to executive-produce when Day-Lewis showed an interest.

Here Daniel played Conlon, a Belfast petty crook who, in London at the time of the Guildford pub bombings, is coerced by the police into confessing, and jailed alongside his father (Postlethwaite). Thus begins a long battle for justice, with aid coming from sympathetic Brit lawyer Emma Thompson.

It was stirring stuff, with Daniel Oscar-nominated again (he was beaten by Tom Hanks in Philadelphia. Also nominated that year was Leonardo DiCaprio, later Daniel's co-star in Gangs Of New York). And, as ever when Daniel is in the public eye, the tabloids were looking for romance everywhere. His ongoing relationship with Adjani was always stormy, and now the papers connected him to the singer Sinead O'Connor, who'd provided music for In The Name Of The Father.

Worse, in terms of tabloid hounding, there was Julia Roberts, after Pretty Woman the biggest female star in the world. At the time, she was connected to the Shakespeare In Love project and, having the choice of leading man, went after Daniel. He turned it down for In The Name Of The Father, but she persisted, visiting Dublin during the shoot and starting rumours of a fling. Oddly, given the supposed passion of the supposed affair, she married singer Lyle Lovett just 4 weeks later.

Now Daniel made a big move, assuming Irish citizenship and buying a 5-bedroom Georgian house called Castlekevin at the foot of the Wicklow mountains. By the end of 1993, Adjani had moved in, but the end was nigh. They split for 8 months, Daniel spending his time working on the house and estate, then briefly reunited before splitting for good. A horrible report spread that Daniel had dumped her by fax. Adjani denied it, adding that she was pregnant, much to Daniel's chagrin. A boy, Gabriel Kane would be born in the spring of 1995.

The birth would bring yet more controversy. Come 1995, Daniel was spending time in New York, as was the now divorced Julia Roberts. The press were trying everything to catch them together, while berating Daniel for seeing another woman while Adjani was giving birth to his child (she'd come to New York to do it, and would stay to film Diabolique with Sharon Stone).

Feeling utterly persecuted by the press, Daniel was in the perfect state of mind for his next role, as John Proctor in Arthur Miller's The Crucible, a part he'd turned down twice before. Here he'd play a strict 17th Century farmer, married to Joan Allen. He engages in an affair with young Abby Williams (Ryder again), but ashamed of his behaviour, he terminates it, leading Abby to accuse Allen and many others of witchcraft. Thus the Salem witch-trials begin. And Daniel, naturally, was fine as Proctor, a flawed but noble man who sacrifices his life for his good name.

As if he hadn't had enough, now came even more controversy. In early 1995, Daniel had been training in New York with instructor Deya Pichardo. They would later begin a relationship but soon split, with Daniel letting her stay in his New York apartment while she looked for another. Come mid-1996, Daniel was suddenly engaged to Rebecca Miller, the stage actress daughter of Arthur (she, of all people, would understand his relationship with his own father). They'd be married that November, and the horrible story this time was that Adjani called Daniel's New York flat to congratulate him only to have Pichardo, who still thought she was going out with Daniel, ask what the hell was going on. It was hogwash, of course, but it did further confirm the way the press saw Daniel. As a legendarily dedicated actor, they believed he must take his cold determination and selfishness into his relationships. Well, it would make a great story if he did. In fact, it did make a great story even if he didn't.

Daniel now moved to Ireland, and Jim Sheridan, for The Boxer. This saw him as Danny Flynn, a man jailed for 14 years for IRA activities. Now released, he starts a gym for youngsters, and rekindles a relationship with old flame Emily Watson, but has trouble escaping his past. It was a difficult shoot, with Daniel wanting to concentrate on the boxing and Sheridan on the romance. Nevertheless, it was a moving piece, with Daniel nominated for a Golden Globe.

Tired of the whole process, Daniel went into semi-retirement. A son, Ronan, was born in 1998 (another, Cashel Blake would follow in 2002), and the next year the family spent time in Florence. Here Daniel, intrigued by the making of a pair of shoes he bought, spent time studying the cobbler's craft. But he couldn't stay away from films forever, especially not when Scorsese came calling again. The director had for years been trying to bring his Gangs Of New York idea to the screen, and now had the finance.

The movie was to be set in New York in the mid-1900s, concerning gang wars between native Brits and immigrant Irishmen, coming to a head with the Draft Riots of 1863. Robert De Niro was to play Brit gang leader William Cutting, known as Bill the Butcher, who'd killed an Irish leader only to have his son (Leonardo DiCaprio) seek revenge some 17 years later.

Daniel was interested in the part of the Irish father. It would be interesting, and brief, and after all it was for Marty. Coming to New York to discuss the part with Scorsese and DiCaprio, he discovered that De Niro had dropped out, and allowed himself to be persuaded to take on the part of Bill the Butcher. And how good that he did. With his huge top hat, bizarre accent, quirky philosophising and manic brutality, Bill was one of Daniel's greatest creations - far more intriguing than The Lord Of The Rings' Aragorn, a part he turned down to play Bill. Once again, he stayed in character on and off set, constantly sharpening his knives and even continuing to act after DiCaprio had accidentally broken his nose in a fight sequence.

Once again, Day-Lewis would disappear from our screens, only returning in 2005 in The Ballad Of Jack And Rose, directed by his wife Rebecca. Here he'd play a charming but maddening middle-aged hippie living in the ruins of a commune on a East coast island with his teenage daughter, played by Camilla Belle. While she becomes fixated on him, he wages war on property developers trying to build houses on the other side of the island while also persuading new girlfriend Catherine Keener to move in with her two sons, one being played by Paul Dano. The drama would build as Daniel was forced to deal with Belle's reaction to this betrayal, with the reality of the new development and with his own possibly fatal illness.

The Ballad Of Jack And Rose was a low-key release by Day-Lewis's recent standards. His next picture, though, would see him back on the front pages. There Will Be Blood, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and very loosely based on Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel Oil!, would see him digging for gold in California then striking lucky in the oil business, the film charting the corrosive effect of his pursuit of wealth and power. In this, it was comparable to both Citizen Kane and James Dean's Giant, but it also concentrated on the clash between capitalism and religion at the heart of American society, Daniel's recent co-star Paul Dano playing an insurrectionist preacher whose family has been cheated by a ruthless Day-Lewis. It was another prime role for Daniel, its grand scope allowing him to disappear into his malevolently antisocial character. Yet again he was said to be a dead cert for the Oscar. This time they were right, February the 23rd, 2008, seeing him pick up his second Best Actor award.

He's a complicated character, is Daniel Day-Lewis. In New York on September 11th, 2001, he tried to give blood but the lines were too long. Instead, he helped transport boxes of ice to hospitals, to keep the blood fresh. Once he decided to do something, he had to really DO something. The same goes for every part he plays - he puts everything into it. And, in these days where actors are paid $20 million just for showing up, he's one of the few that really sweats blood for the money. This is what makes him enviable, award-winning and great.

Dominic Wills

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